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    The Peaceable Kingdom

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    The Goldsworthy Trilogy: Gospel & Kingdom, Gospel & Wisdom, Gospel & Revelation

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    Grace and Law: St. Paul, Kant, and the Hebrew Prophets

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The Un-Right Christians

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Blogging Blues

Blogging is a peculiar activity. It is a medium that is sometimes a cross between a public opinion piece and a personal journal entry. Therefore, sometimes things that are written in a blog contain personal, intimate details of someone's life, or at least, a glimpse to the writer's personal thoughts that might be classified as "too personal." And, yet, perhaps this might be the attraction or popularity of blogs, from a readership point of view. We get to take a peek inside someone's inner life and read juicy bits of intimate details without having to engage them in relationship. Yet, by virtue of the fact that the medium is so accessible, and well, so public, sometimes the things we say in a blog can cause very undesirable results.

We open up ourselves in a most vulnerable way, and if we are not careful, we might say things that infuriate people, or cause them to judge us in a particular way. Or, perhaps we might find ourself being dragged into some kind of tangential discussion or debate that we never intended to do when we first began the conversation. That is the thing, sometimes the things we say were never meant to be part of a conversation - it is more like a soliloquy, monologue, or at least a "talking-to-myself". The trouble is, because it is also a personal journal of sorts, sometimes elements of the "public" and the "intimate" are co-mingled into the same post and the whole tangled mess can be difficult to untangle.

I think that is what happened over at Messy Christian. She voiced something about her own frustrations, or confusions, regarding the current flurry of activities in certain quarters among Christian bloggers to form aggregators, groups and blogrolls. Somehow in her post, she let something private slip out, something that was read as casting a dark shadow on the person she referred in her comment, something that the person referred to thought she ought to have done via email, and what ensued was a fight that I don't think either party wanted to start nor participate. From where I stand "in the outer" as it were, it seems to me that both were being dragged into some kind of invisibile whirlpool and neither of them liked it. Not nice to watch.

Messy's post actually reminded me of my own post some time ago, at about the time I was pondering whether or not to join the League of Reformed Bloggers. My own consternation has to do more about me than about the League though. I was torn because of my own background - I started my church life by attending, and becoming really involved in a predominantly Calvinist, Fundamentalist church. After years of being a staunch Calvinist, I found that I have changed much over the years. I was uneasy about the requirments for membership in that League, while at the same time, I would like to belong to it for the fellowship. However, I did not know if I qualified, for while I don't think I hold the label, "Reformed" as a card-bearing member of the group, I do hold to some Reformed concepts. While I would not call myself Arminian either, I also find some Arminian ideas convincing. Yet I also feel uncomfortable with much of either side's theology.

Someone mentioned that Christians seem to be the most contentious people around, and in my own experience, Calvinists and Reformed people are especially guilty of this unfortunate trait. I wonder why that is the case (in fact I have posted some of my thoughts on this matter before). Is it because we have this impassioned, fervid desire to be right all of the time? Perhaps, the very nature of our faith, and the claims that our faith have about the truth, fan this almost irrational need to be on the side of truth in all areas. I don't know. I get tired about this sometimes. Or, maybe it is just that Christians like being part of factions and groups. Perhaps that is why there are so many denominations and groups, which started all the way back with the first century Christians, when they divided themselves into groups under Apollos and Paul, and contended with one another.

In any case, back to the issue about Blogs, Blog alliances and aggregators, one can view it either as an inclusive mechanism or as an exclusive one. JollyBlogger's intution about this is more for inclusivity. I know I felt somewhat left out in the cold when I did not make the cut, so to speak, when I attempted to join the LORB. I actually felt depressed over it, but then again, I was already clinically depressed, so it was, as I said more about me, than anything else! However, in the end, I did not let that botther me, not much anyway.

I know in my search for a blog-identity or blog-belongingness, I stumbled upon and eventually (finally!) joined up with the
unRight Christians, but at first, I must say, I was wary of any political labelling going on there. I was satisfied there were none, but see Parableman Jeremy Pierce's entry about the connotation of the name. Actually I like the play on words for after all, who is Right (as in "Not completely wrong") except the Lord Himself?). More recently, I found the Progressive Christian Bloggers Network and decided to join, but I must say, not without the usual questions and hesitations, for I am uncomfortable with labels. I wonder if this was fundamentally Messy Christian's problem to start with. I don't know. (See what I mean, if this was a more inflamatory pondering, Messy Christian could take offense at me for wondering out loud, er, "wondering out write", and insist that I ought to have emailed her instead!) Perhaps that is the problem with such labels. For instance, Blogs4God was found to be ineffective for some because it was too inclusive and they wanted a more defined label so that they can identify only those who held onto certain tenets or beliefs, such as "Evangelical" or "Reformed." By the way, very recently another group started up, called "So Cal Neighbors" and by virtue of the fact that it is defined geographically it ought to be less contentious (until someone from Santa Barbara or thereabouts questions the sinister attempt to disenfranchise them).

You know, at the end of the day, one of my own personal reasons for finding blog alliances to join, is the motivation of unashamed self-promotion - a means to drive traffic to my blog! Why? I don't know. On the one hand, one of the reasons that I started this blog is for my own therapy - as a way to journal about my own life journey and process some of my own thoughts. Yet, obviously it is not the only reason. Another reason, of course is to join the wider blogger community and engage people in conversation. That is the reason why I read other people's blogs and comment on them. Yet another reason is to find readers for my own blog so that I can engage them in conversation. Which is why I let out a silent whoop of joy each time the Comments feed is bold in my Bloglines account indicating that "Yes!" another one of my fans (haha) have interacted with me! Yet, if people ask why I blog, I would say, "It is for me." Yeah. Right.